|C Smalling||Illness||no return date|
|J Evans||Calf/Shin Injury||14th Jan 12|
|R Ferdinand||Ankle/Foot Injury||31st Dec 11||slight doubt|
|A Young||Ankle/Foot Injury||11th Jan 12|
|P Jones||Facial Injury||31st Dec 11||slight doubt|
|D Fletcher||Bowel Condition||no return date|
|N Vidic||ACL Knee Injury||Jun 12|
|Fabio||Hamstring Injury||31st Dec 11||very doubtful|
|Anderson||Knee Injury||23rd Feb 12|
|M Owen||Thigh Muscle Strain||no return date|
|T Cleverley||Ankle/Foot Injury||no return date|
|T Bebe||ACL Knee Injury||5th Feb 12|
ManUtd.com match report from Manchester United Vs Wigan Athletic.
United 5 Wigan 0A clinical hat-trick from Dimitar Berbatov and well-taken finishes from Ji-sung Park and Antonio Valencia gave United a second successive five-goal victory and moved the Reds level on points with Manchester City at the head of the Barclays Premier League table.
Park opened the scoring inside 10 minutes and Berbatov added a double either side of the interval, before Valencia blasted home against his former club and Park won a penalty for Berbatov to confidently convert with 10 minutes remaining. City's unexpected stalemate at West Brom means now only goal difference separates the two title rivals.
Sir Alex Ferguson was forced to make several personnel changes to his side. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling missed out through illness, and were replaced by serial moonlighters Valencia and Carrick. In turn Darron Gibson stepped into midfield while Park took up a berth on the left wing and Nani shunted over to the opposite flank. The visitors, conversely, were unchanged from their previous outing. The Reds' perfect league record against the Latics had been aired repeatedly in the run-up to the match, but Roberto Martinez's side arrived at Old Trafford on the back of successive away wins at Sunderland and West Brom, as well as creditable home draws against Chelsea and Liverpool.
Buoyed by the champions' comparative unfamiliarity, Wigan's early approach demonstrated a willingness to commit numbers to counter-attacks, and one surging
Patrice Evra ended some patient possession play by bursting into the Wigan area, bypassing challenges from Moses and Antolin Alcaraz and sliding a ball across the area for Park, who stabbed a neat finish around Maynor Figueroa and past the unsighted Ali Al-Habsi. Scenting blood, United continued to pour forward down the flanks, flooding the space afforded by Wigan's three-man central defensive line-up. Park found Berbatov, whose pull-back was destined for Chicharito until Caldwell intervened. Moments later the Mexican's neat turn was negated by a hooked challenge from Alcaraz, yet referee Phil Dowd ignored the United striker's compelling claim for a penalty.
A second goal seemed inevitable. Caldwell escaped embarrassment as his pressured clearance ricocheted against Al-Habsi, while Gibson's effort from 25 yards was deflected wide by Ronnie Stam and Nani's free-kick from similar range curled a yard off-target.
Jordi Gomez spurned a promising free-kick from a similar position for the visitors, scuffing his shot against the wall, before Moses drew an important block from Gibson after fashioning space for himself in the United area. Stam then flung a superb ball across Anders Lindegaard's area, only for the Latics' lack of attacking numbers to undo its excellence.
Events prompted minor half-time tinkering from both managers. Sir Alex withdrew Jonny Evans - his only fit central defender, and one carrying a booking - moved Evra inside and introduced Zeki Fryers at left-back. Roberto Martinez compensated for Sammon's loss with the arrival of striker Franco Di Santo in place of Mohamed Diame. The Argentine moved forward to partner Moses in a 3-4-2 formation which, while bold, left Wigan fragile in the face of United attacks. Park might have doubled his own tally within moments of the restart, as his header was palmed out by Al-Habsi, only for the rebound to fall tantalisingly shy of the Korean's reach.
The joyous feel around Old Trafford was further heightened by news of City's stalemate at West Brom. As the Reds continue to gather momentum in spite of a raft of injuries, drawing level at the top proved an unexpected, yet highly welcome, festive fillip for the champions.
Images from HQworld.net